Blue Harvest Finished

I finished Blue Harvest in time to wear them on a cold foggy day and they are satisfyingly toasty warm.  Now I have a matching set of hat (Esme), scarf (Tudora) and mittens in the same yarn and all in Aran style; I think this is my first ever set to own.  Now if it would just snow, I could really put them to use.  On second thought, I think I can do without the snow.

Pattern: Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) by Mari Muinonen (designer’s blog), published in
Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower (from my stash)
Needles: 6.0 mm/US 10

Tangled up in blue cables.

Blue Harvest: one down, one to go.

I was all set to post about starting Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008 while watching the presidential inauguration, and then the week got away from me, and now we have on hand, literally, one finished mitten. I’m using my stashed Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower, so I decided to call the project Blue Harvest. This Manos stuff is rather a handful to deal with, it’s so bulky and, lumpy, and the needles just slip out. I used two circular needles the first mitten (pictured below), and it made it just a bit confusing for me, so I’ve found my doublepointed needles and will use them for the second one.  The first mitten has gone quite well and using an I-cord as the foundation for the stitches makes it very intriguing, since I’d never done that before.  The pattern relies on charts and utilizes 8 different cables stitches (left- and right-orientated), so I took out the colored pencils and colored the chart to make it less confusing (it’s just me, I have a short attention span).

Mitton one: cuff

On Thursday, I popped into that old Seattle fiber arts institution, The Weaving Works (I’ve been going there since I was a kid tagging along with my mother—a long time ago), and visited with the all the lovelies, and met the new generation of Manos del Uruguay. Now I know that the Manos I have is the old generation stuff. As you may recall, I bought my Manos about 4 years ago, and that was when it was spun very unevenly, making it hard to get good gauge with. Well it seems that things have changed, and if only I’d bought new Manos, I probably wouldn’t get these spots of thin stitches where the fiber thins from bulky to fingering; makes for a drafty mitten. But then I wanted to use my stash, and well, there you go. So, I find myself fiddling with the stitches on the finished mitten to close the thin spots where the yarn is fingering weight.

I can see clearly now, the yarn is gone.

In looking around in Ravelry, I found out that the designer of Yellow Harvest Mittens, Mari Muinonen, is also the designer of the one and only Sylvi, which set many a knitter’s heart a flutter last fall, and which I still long for, and that she is also the same knitter whose modification of Tychus is something to be admired.  Now it all comes together: this woman is a powerhouse of creativity!  Such whimsy she incorporates into her designs.

I’ve also started started Shawl Neck Cardigan (Ravelry link) by Vladimir Teriokhin from Knit.1, Winter 2007. It was took a bit of hunting to find this issue, but I was able to track one down at Hilltop Yarn East at 50% off.  Shawl Neck Cardigan was something that I found while digging around Ravelry, and it looked like a fairly reasonable thing to make; not too involved, which is good, because these days knitting time has diminished further and I’m down to about an hour or two every day.  I’m using Elann Peruvian Quechua (65% Alpaca/ 35% Tencel) for this, which I’ve never used before, and it seems pretty nice stuff: it has a firmness to it, but it is soft and shiny.

Cornflower Tudora Epilogue

No sooner had I finished Tudora than I realized I didn’t quite like how it looked (perfectionism!), so I ripped out the seed stitch buttonhole band and got more creative.  According to the pattern, after knitting the bulk of Tudora, you add the buttonhole band just as you would for a cardigan by picking up stitches on a finished edge.  Then the band is made using garter stitch, which I had originally changed that to seed stitch, and you incorporate the buttonhole into as it is worked.  But for my Tudora there were a few things going on that I wanted to change:  I wanted the majority of the buttonhole band to match the rest of the cabling of Tudora and I wanted more over lap where the scarf is buttoned, as well as a looser fit.  I also didn’t care for the abrupt drop-off of the top edge of the buttonhole band (see top photo below).

Original buttonhole band.

New buttonhole band.

Not wanting to frog the whole scarf in order to make the buttonhole band match, I ended-up cutting off the existing band and casting on the desired number of stitches so as to create an extension piece.  This  meant working the buttonhole differently, especially because I wanted a verticle buttonhole as the pattern calls for, and which I think is best suited for the project.  So for the buttonhole, I k2tog at the desired location, added another piece of yarn so that for a few rows I was working both sides of the buttonhole with two different strands of yarn concurrently.  At the top of the buttonhole I made a new stitch and resumed using one strand of yarn.  Since Tudora has a sloped top edge, I worked the top edge so that it sloped and it didn’t have that abrupt drop-off look on the original band anymore.  I did end up putting a small amount of seed stitch for the end of the buttonhole band to give some stability and to minimize curling edges.  I had to sew the new buttonhole band on since I didn’t pick-up stitches for it, so the area where it’s sewed-on is somewhat visible, but it’s not too obvious.

I’m pleased with how it all ended, except that I don’t care for how the lumpy texture of Manos del Uruguay makes the edges of Tudora look so uneven, but I did want to use some of my stash yarn and Manos was calling to me. It’s okay, it doesn’t have to look machine-made. Right?

Cornflower Tudora

My first finished object of the new year is Tudora.

I like Tudora’s design because it provides good neck coverage and doesn’t have long, scarf ends getting in the way when bending over.  Bending over may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re in a public bathroom helping your young child do what he needs to do, bending over and having scarf ends dangling precariously over a toilet is something you just don’t want.  Am I right?

Tudora is an easy pattern, and I made it while watching, appropriately enough, the movie Elizabeth I starring the fabulous Dame Helen Mirren in installments.  Speaking of Helen Mirren, I hope I look that amazing in a bikini at 62.  Anyway, back to my knitting:  it’s a good thing that I made it in installments because it’s meant to be tightly knit, and using Manos del Uruguay probably made it even tighter, so I knit it in mostly 2-row increments at a time, and then gave my fingers, hands and wrists a good shake and stretch afterward. Manos is probably not the best-suited yarn for Tudora, perhaps just a tad too thick and lumpy.

Brass button from the collection of vintage buttons I inherited from my grandmother.

Pattern:  Tudora by Cheryl Marling, from Knitty, Winter 2007
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower (stash collection)
Needles: 2.75 mm / US 2 circular
Button: personal vintage button collection
Modification: instead of the garter stitch buttonhole band, I added one more stitch and made it a seed stitch buttonhole band.

The yarn, by the way, was another skein of the four skeins of stashed Manos from a few years ago, and that leaves me with enough to make mittens with. I’m thinking Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008.  I’m a bit excited, because if I make the mittens out of the remaining Manos, then combined with the Esme hat I made at the end of December and Tudora, I’ll have a full matching set to wear for those rare times when it actually gets cold enough to wear a full set!  I know it sounds rather silly coming from a knitter, but I’ve never had a full matching set of hat, scarf and mittens, just bits and pieces, so whenever I needed to bundle up, I looked rather mismatched: red scarf, blue hat and dark brown driving gloves.  It’s the little things in life.  You know?

Along with my first finished object of the new year, and refusing to be out-done, Zephyr, went out and caught his first mouse of the new year, and delightfully decapitated it on the deck off of the dining room (at least he knows where to dine), leaving the body for our, er, enjoyment.  As much as I would love to share the object of my revulsion, I’ll spare you the picture.

Zephyr looking too logy to look up after his New Year kill.

Why they don’t make canned food for cats out of mice, rats and goldfish?  You laugh, I know you are, but I’m serious!  Okay, it wouldn’t be that bad, I mean they already kill something to make canned cat food.  Right?  So why not have a whole farm of these little rodents instead?  The kitties would thank us for it.  I really don’t think kitties have a taste for something out of their food chain.  Can you see a kitty taking down a cow?  Think about it:  Mouse & Oat Grass Buffet with Catnip Coulis in a can, coming to a pet grocer near you.

We’re very homey, these days.

We’ve been feeling very homey and never made it off the front porch yesterday, so we made spritz cookies from the cookie cookbook of my childhood:  Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, 1963 edition.  Feeling particularly festive, we frosted them with royal icing.

Next, I hope to make either World Peace Cookies, which I have Mariko to thank for bringing these to my attention, or Homemade Oreos or the quickest cookie to make that I know of and that doesn’t require baking, Oreo Rum Balls (no link for this).

We have snow drifts around our house. The only place I’ve ever seen snow drifts around here before is in the mountains. Meanwhile, the two hummingbirds that winter-over actually drew blood over the hummingbird feeder yesterday (I go out and defrost it every few hours); there were little splatters of blood all over the snow underneath it on the front porch. Despite avian drama at the hummingbird feeder, it’s just plain breathtaking around here, and in contrast to the adult in me that says it’s all a hassle, the kid in me is rejoicing over the snow I’d often wished for so that I wouldn’t have to go to school and could go sledding instead.

Snow-covered bush at dawn.

My Japanese sweet-making class for today is canceled (sniff). I canceled the babysitter who was going to cover while I went to the class (sniff), since she couldn’t make it here and I have no place to go until our driveway melts. Now if I can’t get my to haircut in downtown Seattle tomorrow, well, there’ll be hell to pay: if I can’t get to the competent hands of my stylist this week, I’ll have to lock myself up in the house until the next available appointment in mid-January.

I finished Esme. It’s a quick and easy knit, probably took me 6-8 hours total, and I recommend it. I should note that the pattern is sized for adults, and even though my son is wearing the hat, it’s for me and it fits perfectly.

Pattern: Esme, by Amy Pickard
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower (from my stash collection)
Needles: US 7/4.5 mm, circular (magic loop method)

Blocking with a dinner plate.

Introducing my very own model!

I threw in the picture below because over the weekend we unearthed the second hat I made 23 years ago.  It was from a kit I bought while attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison at the time. I’m told the yarn store is long gone, but I enjoyed these hat kits, because I loved the lanolin smell of the wool yarn and the earthy feel of the handspun yarn in my hands, the pattern was fun and it was the first time I made something using colors that actually worked out and I remember the delight I felt as I saw the pattern develop. I’d made this one for my dad, but I remember he said it was too warm and I guess he never wore it, so after he died some years ago and I was sorting through all of his stuff, I found it and reclaimed it. My son wore it when we went sledding this morning; he really appreciates things I’ve knitted, and I’m considering making him a cardigan.

It's not easy to get him to sit still while wearing two scratchy wool hats.

Day 4: Cabin Fever

Today marks the fourth day I have not left the confines my neighborhood. I haven’t driven anywhere due to an icy uphill drive and icy roads—nay, I haven’t been in a car in four days—and now the third round of our winter storm has hit in the form of a blizzard. Next year will mark 30 years since I first came to the Pacific Northwest and I have never seen such a storm in the Seattle metropolitan area. I have not seen weather like this since I lived in Minnesota. Crazy. Blowing and drifting. Crazy.

You know cabin fever has set in when my son and I greeted my husband with eager anticipation when he came home from work yesterday (the boss and his four-wheel drive have been taking him to and from lately), tearing the grocery bag from his hands to inspect its contents as if it was Christmas already. Luckily his office is near a supermarket and I sent him shopping before he came home.

Frost glinting in the morning sun on a frozen squash on my neighbor's fence post.

You know cabin fever has set in when the birthday party for the 3-year old a few houses down becomes more of a social hour for the parents; all of us sticking around much longer than we would otherwise. Where else could we go?

I keep myself entertained though. I think I ticked-off one of my sisters-in-law today via email when I told her I was sending two books for her 5-year old daughter instead of the iTunes gift card her mom requested (the 5-year old has her own iPod Touch). It’s okay, I told my sister-in-law that she is welcome to return the books and get what my niece wants. I only meant well, figuring that it’s more fun to actually open a gift than to open a gift card when you’re very little. And then my mom got annoyed with me because I didn’t call her to tell her we wouldn’t be accepting her open invitation for dinner at her place tonight—I fell asleep. So much for joyful family relations during the holiday season. Sigh.

Cabin fever and annoying relatives aside, I have some knitting for you.

Esme brim using Manos from my stash, how it looked this afternoon, now it's halfway done (no picture yet).

Mom's Christmas scarf, garter stitch, yarn from Italy trip, half done.

To close, hope for the future—

Morning on the snowy woodland: after today the days start getting longer again....I can't wait.

Somebody get me some chocolate…..please.

These days of cold….

We don’t get out much these days between biting cold weather, occasional icy roads, school closures and snow.  We finally got our big snow storm early this morning and we did our sledding and made a snow angel.

We finally got a Christmas tree last weekend and we’re pretty much done decorating it.  Because it’s been so cold, we opted for a pre-cut tree from a nearby tree farm rather than trek out into the field to cut it ourselves.  I know, we’re wimps.

It's so cold the cats spend a lot of time in front of the gas heater.

I used the tree decorating as a photo opp for socks that I made 3 years ago with yarn I bought on a trip to Newport, Oregon earlier that year.

Why am I showing them now?  Because I didn’t have a blog then (although I wanted one) and I rarely wear them because they don’t fit in my everyday shoes, and if they did, they’d be a little more wild that I’d like to be seen in for normal, everyday wear.  So I was wearing them and thought I’d give them some attention.  The pattern is Whitby from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road.  I don’t remember much about the yarn except that it is Socks That Rock and it’s pretty thick stuff; it may be STR’s heavyweight yarn, and don’t quote me, but I think the colorway is “Blarney Stone”.

I wound a couple more balls of the Orenburg yarn for Grand Duchess and, interestingly enough, as I suspected some of the skeins partially felted when I dyed them last August.  I say partially, because the strands of mohair had partially locked together, but I was  able to gently tease them apart.  All the skeins went into the bath together and I stirred them, but I can only imagine that what happened is that some of the skeins got stirred more than others, resulting in the partial felting.  The difference can be seen when the two skeins I wound are side-by-side.

The partially felted ball is on the right, and you can see it has more of a halo from fuzzy mohair.

With the cold weather I’ve found that I’ve misplaced one of my knitted hats and I thought I had some mittens I’d made around here….but I can’t seem to find them. And then, when I was rummaging around in my closet for my hat, I misplaced the other pair of socks I’d knitted (a few years ago) that I was going to wear…and, well, I guess that means I’ll be knitting at least one new hat really fast.

I have four skeins of Manos del Uruguay in solid cornflower sitting around that I still don’t know what to do with, so I’ll use one of them to make Esme from the Winter 2008/Issue 4 edition of The Inside Loop; I searched it out through Ravelry’s pattern search (what a modern miracle that is!).  I have four skeins of Manos because I had a gift certificate for Pastimes Yarns And Sitting Room in Kent, Washington, and no sooner did I get it than the store decided to close (about four years ago), causing about 100 or so yarn devotees to rush down (we had very short notice) to stand in line for hours to use up our gift certificates and store credit along with everyone else looking for a great deal.  I bought the skeins and a few other yarns with no pattern in mind, and by the time I got there, the pickings were slim. Who knows what I’ll do with the remaining skeins, but how handy to have them hanging around so that I can make a new hat!